What Cities Can Do with Vacant Lots

Glenwood Green Acres; © Tony Fischer Photography

The bursting of the housing bubble wreaked havoc on cities across the United States causing widespread blight in once-thriving community economies.  Foreclosed, abandoned and condemned homes continue to pockmark neighborhoods and communities, adding to the vacant lots of populous but affected cities like Philadelphia.  The Mayor’s Office of Philadelphia approximates that there are nearly 40,000 vacant lots throughout the city of brotherly love, about 74% of which are privately owned, making them virtually inaccessible to rehabilitation.  But the city has a strong drive to amend these conditions.  With organizations like DesignPhiladelphia’s “Not a Vacant Lot” and the city’s Redevelopment Authority, some of this land is being put to good use. 

Mayor Bloomberg Announces Winner of adAPT NYC Competition

“My Micro ” Winter © nycmayorsoffice/Flickr

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced the winner of adAPT NYC - a city-sponsored competition that challenged developer-led teams to design an innovative micro-apartment that responds to 21st century housing problems. With an all time high of 8.4 million people, and an expected million more by 2030, New York City’s shortfall of affordable one and two person apartments is continuing to grow at a staggering rate. In an effort to solve this imbalance, the winner of will build an experimental project on a piece of city-owned land in Kips Bay, Manhattan, that has been alleviated from the 1987 density restriction that requires all new apartments to be greater than 400 square feet.

“The growth rate for one- and two-person households greatly exceeds that of households with three or more people, and addressing that housing challenge requires us to think creatively and beyond our current regulations,” said Bloomberg.

So, who won adAPT NYC? Find out after the break!

Brookfield’s Manhattan West Breaks Ground

; Courtesy of Brookfield Development

’s Midtown West will be experiencing a large makeover over the coming years.  Shortly after Hudson Yards broke ground in late 2012, Brookfield Properties initiated the first phase of its 5.4 million-square-foot master plan for Manhattan West on the corner of 33rd Street and 9th Ave.  Hovering over Penn Station’s Railroad tracks, an engineering feat will support two 60-story towers that will encompass residential and commercial functions, as well as public and community space.

CODA wins P.S.1 with Skateboard Scrap ‘Party Wall’

Courtesy of

The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 has selected CODA’s (Caroline O’Donnell, Ithaca, ) large-scale, self-supporting Party Wall, made from leftover shreds of skateboard material, as winner of the 2013 Young Architects Program (YAP). Drawn from five finalists, the porous skin of CODA’s temporary urban landscape will shade visitors of the Warm Up Summer Music series with its reclaimed woven screen, while providing water in refreshing cooling stations and seating with its detachable wooden skin on the lower half of the linear structure.

“CODA’s proposal was selected because of its clever identification and use of locally available resources – the waste products of skateboard-making – to make an impactful and poetic architectural statement within MoMA PS1′s courtyard,” said Pedro Gadanho, Curator in MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design. “Party Wall arches over the various available spaces, activating them for different purposes, while making evident that even the most unexpected materials can always be reinvented to originate architectural form and its ability to communicate with the public.”

Continue after the break for the complete project description.

Artist Antonio Pio Saracino & Salt ‘N Pepa to Unveil Arches of Hope Installation

Courtesy of Lifebeat: Music Fights HIV/AIDS

Created and conceived by Patrick Duffy, the creative director of the OUT NYC, and designed by award-winning Italian designer and architect Antonio Pio Saracino, the Arches of Hope installation will be launched at its opening reception on Thursday, January 17, from 6:30pm-8:30pm at the OUT and be on display until January 24. In collaboration with Lifebeat: Music Fights HIV/AIDS and the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, the stunning and inspiring interactive art installation will be unveiled on the eve of President Obama’s second inauguration as part of a multi-faceted campaign aimed at raising awareness of the rise of HIV and AIDS in young people. More images and information after the break.

Situ Studio to Construct Valentine’s Day Installation with Salvaged Sandy Debris

©

Situ Studio has been selected from eight competitors as winner of the fifth annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design, cosponsored by Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, along with Design Trust for Public Space. The young, Brooklyn-based practice won the jury over with their Heartwalk proposal made of and New Jersey boardwalk boards that were salvaged from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The installation will be unveiled on Tuesday, February 12, 2013, and remain on view until March 8, 2013.

Learn more about Situ Studio’s winning proposal after the break.

Urban Fabric: Building New York’s Garment District

URBAN FABRIC: Building New York’s Garment District; Courtesy of © 2012

New York’s Garment District, consisting of 18 blocks in the west side of midtown, was the city’s most well known industries in the boom of the 1920s through the early 50s.  The influx of immigrants and the geography of New York City made it a natural hub for manufacturing and trading activity.  The work began in small workshops and at home in crowded tenements and eventually grew out of these crammed space into factories and warehouses.  The industry inadvertently transformed Seventh Avenue into rows of skyscraper factories that faithfully abided to New York City’s regulations.  The 125 loft buildings all shared the pyramidal forms due to step-back laws governing design.

Now, The Skyscraper Museum in New York City is celebrating this neighborhood and its influential development of business, industry and architecture and the mark that it left on the city with an exhibition called URBAN FABRIC.  It is curated by Andrew S Dolkart, the Director of the Historic Preservation Program, and will be running through February 17th.

Learn more and watch the curator’s lecture after the break.

In Progress: The New School University Center / SOM

© SOM

Quickly rising on the corner of 14th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan, this new, multipurpose facility will soon become the “heart” of The New School – an avant-garde university in . The University Center, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), combines all aspects of a traditional campus into a single, 16-story building, offering 200,000 square feet of academic space on the first seven floors and 150,000 square feet for a 600-bed dormitory on the levels above.

The brass-and-glass structure, which is the largest construction project in the university’s 91-year history in Greenwich Village, is scheduled for completion in 2014.

In progress images and more information after the break.

High Line-Inspired Park proposed in Queens

Rockaway Rail Branch of the LIRR; Photos Courtesy of Friends of the Queensway © 2012

When plans for the High Line were first revealed it made quite an impression on the design community. The converted elevated rail line, long abandoned by , was threatened by demolition until a group of activists fought for its revival and helped transform it into one of the most renowned public spaces in Manhattan. Now Queens, a borough with its own abandoned infrastructure is on its way to redeveloping the land for its own version of the High Line, to be known as the .

In late December, the Trust for Public Land announced that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has awarded a $467,000 grant to the organization to begin a feasibility study on the 3.5 mile Long Island rail line. Early proposals reveal a new pedestrian and bike path, public green space and a cultural gateway that will celebrate Queens’ diversity in art, sculpture and food, serving the 250,000 residents that live in the neighborhoods along the route, which include Rego Park, Forest Hills, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Forest Park.

Join us after the break for more.

North Brother Island School for Autistic Children / Ian M. Ellis & Frances Peterson

Courtesy of Ian M. Ellis &

Designed by architecture students, Ian M. Ellis and Frances Peterson, their proposal for the North Brother Island School for Autistic Children in City aims to provide a necessary resource for the Bronx, which is heavily underserved in terms of school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The project is also designed with the intention that it will dissolve the negative stigma of the island, stabilize its naturalized growth as habitat for the birds, and introduce research and education programs to provide a cutting edge learning environment for the public, parents, and children. More images and architects’ description after the break.

BIG Update: Planning Commission approves West 57th

After months of an “arduous” public reviewing process, BIG’s eye-catching West 57th apartment building in has been approved by the City Planning Commission. The atypical design quickly gained international attention with its abruptly sloped, tetrahedral shape that rises from three stories to thirty-eight stories on an awkwardly sized single block site. Cleverly titled W57, the unique project was “born of logic”, as Magazine’s Justin Davidson would describe. It features a massive, football-sized courtyard with stunning Hudson River views and outdoor terraces for all 753 residents, along with a vibrant street life and close proximity to the Hudson River Park.

“Our approval will facilitate development of a significant new building with a distinctive pyramid-like shaped design and thoughtful site plan that integrates the full block site into the evolving residential, institutional, and commercial neighborhood surrounding it,” stated City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden before voting in favor of the project.

Find out what it took to get W57 passed, after the break…

“Ruins of Modernity: The Failure of Revolutionary Architecture in the 20th Century”

Courtesy of The Platypus Affiliated Society

Including well-known speakers such as Peter Eisenman, Reinhold Martin, Joan Ockman, and Bernard Tschumi, the “Ruins of Modernity: The Failure of Revolutionary Architecture in the 20th Century” event will be taking place in City February 7th from 7:00pm-10:00pm. Free and open to the public, the event is part of a larger series of panels and events centered around the theme of the death of art that will take place during the month of February 2013 in . The modernists’ project consisted in giving shape to an inseparable duality, wherein the role of architecture was deduced as simultaneously a reflection of modern society as well as an attempt to transform it. The event highlights and debates the thoughts proposed by architectural theorists such as Victor Hugo, Colin Rowe, and Reyner Banham while looking at how the the last century influences architecture today. For more information, please visit here.

Chelsea Market Upzoning Approved by NYC Council

Plans for Chelsea Market along 10th Avenue; Courtesy of Jamestown Properties. Via Architect’s Newspaper

Construction has exploded along the High Line ever since it opened: condos hover over the rehabilitated track and look out onto the Hudson, while the new location of the Whitney Museum is making headway on the southern end of the park as Google moves into its NYC headquarters to a building just a few short blows away.  Now, the historic Chelsea Market may be looking at a facelift following approval from the City Council for increasing density in the building by developers, Jamestown Properties. The proposed vertical extension, which has made a brief appearance on a few architecture blogs, will provide the additional in demand office and retail space in the Chelsea neighborhood.

NYC Developers Race to the Top

© Adam Jackson

It’s a race to the top as developers are reaching higher and higher with impressive glass skyscrapers that house exclusive apartments and panoramic views across Manhattan, level with some of the city’s tallest buildings.   of Extell Development Co. is the man behind the 1,005 foot high One57 tower in Midtown Manhattan.  He announced last month that he would be developing the tallest residential building in City (without the help of a spire).  Adrian Smith, chosen as the architect for the job, is best known for his work on the Burj Dubai.  The new building, still in its early stages of design planning and financing, will tower over the Empire State Building at a planned 1600 feet, that’s just 176 feet shy of World Trade One, the tallest building in Manhattan.

Foster’s Design for the New York Public Library Unveiled

The New York Public Library’s (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.

The New York Public Library (NYPL) has unveiled the details of their controversial plan to renovate the 20th century, Carrère and Hastings “masterpiece” on 5th Avenue. Designed Foster + Partners, the $300 million dollar proposal is a response to the cultural shift from traditional stacks to online resources, as the library has experienced a 41% decrease in the use of collections over the last 15 years.

Sensitive to concerned critics, the renovation promises to preserve the building’s legacy as it integrates a new, state-of-the-art Circulating Library into its flagship Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street. Foster’s “library within a library” will transform seven floors of stacks, currently occupying the back of the building, into an aesthetically, technologically and environmentally advanced public space that meets the needs of our 21st century society.

“We need to be respectful of the beloved, iconic building and to create a new inspiring space,” Anthony W. Marx, the library’s president, said in an interview with the New York Times. “At a time when people wonder about the future of libraries, we’re going to create the greatest library the world has ever seen.”

Learn all the details and see the renderings after the break…

Films & Architecture: “Batman”

This week we’re going to spotlight one of our greatest contemporary filmmakers, Tim Burton. In the 1989 film , Burton generates a whole gothic environment, full of art deco and art nouveau buildings within Gotham City. Locations were inspired by urban spaces from , Los Angeles, West London, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Tokyo, to Hong Kong (even though Gotham City was a well-known nickname for , before Batman was ever written).

If you didn’t check out our article on Architecture & Batman, do so now – and let us know which Director you think does Gotham best in the comments below…

‘Hong Kong at 15: Redefining the Public Realm’ Exhibition

Courtesy of AIA

The American Institute of Architects New York Chapter and the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office are opening the “Hong Kong at 15: Redefining the Public Realm” exhibition this Monday, December 10th at 7:00pm and will be on exhibit until January 23rd. Taking place at the Center for Architecture in , the exhibit features architectural projects built in Hong Kong designed by architects, and highlights the 15 year milestone of Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty and highlights the contribution of architects to the design of Hong Kong. Fueled by a famously free economy, and reputation as a gateway to China, Hong Kong has continued to grow over the past 15 years with the city’s architects and engineers producing highly sophisticated solutions to the challenged faced in the city. For more information about the event, please visit here.

‘Time Light’ Steven Holl Lecture at the Cooper Union

Courtesy of

Hosted by the Architectural League and co-sponsored by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union, Steven Holl will lecture in the Great Hall at The Cooper Union on November 28 at 7:00pm. Holl’s architecture and writing has undergone a shift in emphasis, from his earlier concern with typology to his current interest in phenomenology. This “Time Light” lecture is dedicated to Lebbeus Woods and will show both early and recent works by Architects. Following the lecture, will be joined in conversation by Sanford Kwinter. For more information on the event, please visit here.